POLICE in Essex recovered a record haul of criminal cash and assets last year, new figures have revealed.

Essex Police collected proceeds of crime worth £10.4million in 2018-19, according to the latest Home Office data.

This includes ‘dirty money’, goods and property.

Of this, £9.9million, or 94 per cent, came from confiscation orders which take place following a criminal conviction but will be started before sentencing.

One example is of a drug dealer who was jailed for growing cannabis in his loft after police officers found 226 plants.

The force estimated his haul – which was found in the top floor flat in Westborough Road, Westcliff – had an estimated street value of up to £189,000.

Christopher Tame, 42, formerly of Wallace Street, Shoebury, was arrested at the scene and charged with cannabis production, abstracting electricity, acquiring criminal property and concealing criminal property.

Tame was found guilty by a jury at Basildon Crown Court on April 6 last year and was jailed for four years.

At a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing, the courts found Tame had benefitted from his crime by £165,000 and a confiscation order was made for his available assets of £79,451.53.

If he fails to pay this money back, he could face another two years in jail.

Another drug dealer was ordered to pay £27,000 of his similarly illicit earnings.

Liam Allen, 39, was jailed for seven years in March last year after police found cash and cannabis during a raid at his home in Lifstans Way, Southend.

The raid took place in April 2016 after detectives witnesses Allen and another dealer – 33-year-old William Curbishley – ferrying cash and drugs across south Essex.

The operation resulted in a total of £95,000 worth of cash, cocaine and cannabis being seized from the streets.

Allen stood trial at Chelmsford Crown Court and was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cannabis and possession of criminal property.

A confiscation hearing under POCA was held on September 21 last year at Basildon Crown Court and the judge declared Allen had benefitted from his crimes to the tune of £250,000.

Based on his available assets, he was ordered to pay £27,350.

The remainder came from powers to seize cash in civil proceedings.

The haul is nearly six times the value seized when records began in 2013-14.

In that year, officers recovered a total of £1.8 million.

Just under £217m was collected by police forces, councils and government agencies across England, Wales and Northern Ireland using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act – up 21 per cent over the five-year period.

Dirty cash forfeited in civil proceedings accounted for a record £51million. with a further £166m confiscated following criminal convictions.

A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman said: “Police forces prioritise crimes of the highest threat, risk and harm, and we have been using our powers to increase our seizure of the assets of serious criminals.”